Barcamp – Text, Image, Sound

Participation gets an individual the following; the opportunity to share knowledge built upon a user-generated pedagogy; conversation with talented individuals across every medium; the opportunity to raise and address obstacles with fellow project managers facilitating; a nurturing progressive environment; a commitment to sustainability in distribution; a stake in a co-operative venture; the meta-objective of commercial accessible creative publishing; an open platform to find and discuss the nuts and bolts growth of aspirational creative direction together; it is a knowledge pool, an associated broadcast, a local, cross-border, transatlantic initiative. It is a first of a kind event for professionals and fringe comics media creatives and the outcomes may surprise all of us.
(With thanks to Will Simpson for pushing my think)

1:30 plug for Barcamp taken from last week’s Panel Borders show by Alex Fitch and snipped and pic-matched by me. Produced in the early hours of the morning, with neither Alex nor I at our most lucid.


A 13 minute interview between Andy Luke and Marc Savage (stream/save target as) recorded on 18th August. on Banbridge Sunshine FM’s Following the Nerd show.

Don’t come with your two arms the one length.

UPDATE: It’s been confirmed that Marc and perhaps other Nerdfollowers will be journeying from Banbridge and recording during the event.

Ben_Bland just reminded me this needs to be here,
When: Saturday 3rd September, 9am-6pm
Where: Blick Studios, 51 Malone Road, Belfast

Business unConference into High Gear in Final Week

Debbie McCormack (Don’t Panic!) and Sean Duffield (Paper Tiger) have volunteered money and services to the Belfast event.


There’s also been a distribution of promotional materials around yesterday’s Dublin Zine Fair by Gar Shanley and others.

Debbie McCormack contributes with Gareth McKnight to the comedy anthology, lavishing upon readers strips like Gender Confused Bear and The Further Adventures of Nick Cave. The comic has the lo-fi rendering values associated with David Shrigley and Ralph Kidson, and like the latter’s work, is priced at £1.00 – affordable, as were comics of yore.

In addition to pledging a decent amount of cash, Debbie has also paid for and distributed colour advertising around Belfast city centre. Her coverage spreads around the artsy coffee shop zones of Botanic and Stranmillis. In addition, she’s also undertaken some social media duties.

Tidy Barcamp logo rectangle - higher dpi needed for site posters

There has also been a small donation from Brighton based Sean Duffield. The lead man behind Paper Tiger Comics, is fresh from his appearance at the ‘Comix & Conflict’ event at COMICA last weekend alongside Garth Ennis and Pat Mills. Sean is perhaps best known for his sterling work as editor on War – The Human Cost, a 260 page featuring 67 artists from around the world. Copies of the 750-print limited edition can be ordered here.
The work is a non-profit project with £1 from each copy sold going to CAAT and Brighton’s Community Arts Projects.

Publishers wishing to re-print the work should get in touch with Sean. Sean, like co-sponsors Roger Sabin, Gar and Debbie, has been pro-active in assisting administration and networking towards the camp. Their contributions may allow some catering for pre-registering participants, although talks are underway to decide where the funds should be best spent.

Pre-registration for the free event allows for better planning among unConference attendees, and clearer lines of communication with potential sponsors. For best practice, you can do this via the Google spreadsheet.

BC b&w

Above: Deirde deBarra’s black and white barcamp logo, uploaded to the wiki on July 31st


Above: One of the inspirational posters from Barcamp Oxford 2008

Update: Belfast Community Comics Media Business unConference



Vital needs Funding has been secured for the event which will take place at Blick Studios on Saturday 3rd September.

Earlier this week Gar Shanley reported that, the internet’s first download comic shop, had helped to sponsor the event via Publisher Relations Manager Matt McElroy.

McElroy has since been joined by noted comics media champion, journalist and academic Dr. Roger Sabin whose contribution has allowed for the remaining venue costs to be paid, and for purchase for stationery and some snacks for attendees.

Roger’s previous books and journals have also included writing on fanzines, punk rock and alternative culture. More recently he has about game-changing tv series The Wire in relation to the crisis in journalism and the cop-show genre, and spoken on surrealism in comics and science-fiction. Roger, along with The Thought Bubble’s Ian Hague has also been helpful in matching contacts with an interest in sponsorship and speaking.


Gar Shanley, one of the central support body will be facilitating a discussion at the Bar Camp unConference, on establishing a regular sales outlet for independent comics within the Dublin market as part of the general struggle with getting the media re-integrated into mainstream retail areas. He will be attending the Ranleigh Arts Centre Zine Fair tomorrow. He also welcomes any co-operation on the ICN forum priming and developing this objective.

Hilary Lawler, workshop leader at Catalyst Arts’ ¿@#!*$ festival earlier in the year said the Bar camp initiative is “contributing to the flagging cultural landscape of Ireland in a very positive way.” Hilary also is interested in Gar’s chosen subject, given her involvement in The Point Village market event last year.

Pre-registration for the free event allows for better planning among unConference attendees, and clearer lines of communication with potential sponsors. For best practice, you can do this via the Google spreadsheet.

Previous articles on this topic



Jeopardy Day 2: What Comics Barcamp Looks Like

A lackluster response to Barcamp seems to have come from an odd place: an internet full of knowledge, perhaps a comics convention circuit used to waiting for instruction. This piece has been spurred by debate with Paddy Brown, questions from Tommie Kelly, empathy from Gar Shanley and inspiration from Hilary Lawler, here’s your latest visual guide.

Please make a point of reading the accompanying visual article “The Bottom Line” as well. Readers of this may enjoy “Fantasy Football League.”

What Barcamp Might Look Like whatbarcampmightlooklike2 Barcamp Images

Barcamp Jeopardy Day 2: Fantasy Football League

In order to secure the future of Comics Barcamp< I posted yesterday details of emergency chat sessions using LINK DELETED new chat room.

Today’s times are Saturday 2:30 – 4:30pm, 6:30pm – 8pm, or for any two people who want to take the initiative, whenever they like.

In this thread, Stephen Downey picked up on a suggestion made earlier,

If you really want to to make a final push Andy I would suggest making a list of what you think people would be good at and send them a personal email asking if they’d like to do a talk on it. A personal phone call would probably be even bette as people are less likely to say ‘no’ in person ;P

I’ve already done this in some cases. But it does miss the point a little: that this is the responsibility of everyone who wants to come. That aside, I have been going more mental than usual lately. As the comments don’t allow pictures yet, here is Part 1 of a non-comprehensive speculative barcamp.

barcamp main new page 1 barcamp main page 2 barcamp main page 3 barcamp main page 4

I know a number of you creatively. Some quite well, some in passing. Many of you I don’t know personally. I don’t know what else you studied, what your day job is, what your life outside of comics takes in. Among these skills are additions to Barcamp.

barcamp main page 5 barcamp main page 6

At this point I think it’s begun to get too empathic. I’m going to follow this today with another set of visuals. Hopefully, a system overview of Barcamp answering the other questions raised here and a recap.

Emergency Planning Chats: Fri, Sat. Comics Barcamp in Jeopardy

Announcing the go-ahead of Comics Barcamp at 2d I felt we could have an event to build a solid representative Irish publishing community built on professionalism, knowledge sharing and stripped of accusations of vanity. A platform of organisation for groups and beneficial to individuals. Where everyone is a guest and pitches in.

It failed. I secured a sponsor for technical equipment and refreshments, set up websites, did a lot of promotion. A few folk (eg. Paddy Brown, David Lloyd) have mentioned it, but few are saying anything new or participating.

Friday afternoon 4:30 – 6pm
Saturday 2:30 – 4:30pm, 6:30pm – 8pm

I’ll be in the ICN chat room at these times. By Monday, we should be able to ascertain whether Barcamp is on. At present the most pressing role holes are securing funding for the venue and a logo. Please spread the word. It would be a shame if the first venture of this type failed. A nuisance if my head is on the block.

On the small Google Groups site last night, Paddy Brown wrote,

“I don’t see a great upswelling of communal enthusiasm for it, and I’d have to include myself in that. I can see the merits of the barcamp format, but it seems to me that a successful barcamp would have to have a more specific objective, and an already existing group of people who shared that objective. Without a specific objective it’s just a talking shop. Unless there’s a major upsurge in participation, I think we probably need to step back and rethink. What is it for, what can it do that people want or need but existing events aren’t doing?”

I responded,
“All the evidence points to your conclusions. You know through your experiences with the Wiki and Black Panel, that a lot of people are happy to default to the lone voice setting. A good meta-objective would be the publication of a comic representative of Irish creators run at a profit and available as accessibly as possible.”

The thread continues to describe how this aim might break down to ten or more sessions.

September 3rd for UK and Ireland’s first comics barcamp


The date has been confirmed for the second Comics Barcamp in the English speaking world. The venue is Blick Studios in Belfast, who are also co-sponsoring the event. Announced in the week following 2d, Christine James of Blick and Andy Luke confirmed the date yesterday.

A barcamp is essentially an “unconference”, a creative business brainstorming seminar, run along communal lines. The communal element is essential, because if a set number of people don’t take part, barcamp doesn’t happen. It relies on advance planning, but has an improvisational element that keeps the energy fresh. It also generally has reverberating effects after the event such as a web-streamed presentations and blogging.

While employing a plethora of talented imagineers, the comics industry is known to produce mostly bland generic vanity work; rarely sensually relevant, often linked with class trappings. Much like most other media industries. Until recently. the format of comics conventions has remained much the same as it has for over thirty years. Creators are largely used to invites with guest focus promotion, more often being told what to speak on.

Can Comics Barcamp really change that?

With around six weeks to go and little discussion, it remains to be seen if this barcamp will work. Irish comic industry expansion in recent years indicates the gain from events like this could be considerable.

Confirmed attendee, Andy Luke, refused to be drawn into a lone voice mentality, and has invited his imaginary friend to speak on his behalf.

“The possibilities of what Barcamp could achieve are incredible, for humans, autobots and decepticons alike. We must work TOGETHER to raise the credits for this TALK among ourselves and construct fantastical presentations only existent in our imaginations. This is a new day for Cybertron, and for Earth. A FREE BARCAMP. The Living Matrix only knows. Or the AllSpark. Whatever.”

It is unknown if Optimus Prime will attend Comics Barcamp. His enemy Starscream, also lives in some people’s heads, and also supports the idea.

“The universe is ours, rich for the plunder! Now… WHERE IS MY FANTASY FOOTBALL LEAGUE TABLE OF COMICS CREATORS TALKS?”

Barcamp starts now.

Register for the event
Discussion Group (as well as ICN’s forum)

What is Comic Barcamp? [By Gar Shanley]

The following is a piece written by Gar Shanley to help promote the Comics Barcamp Belfast event of 2011. Half of the piece is an interview with me so I’ve taken the liberty of reprinting it here, HOWEVER, you should all visit Gar’s website as he is a very funny man, and a pleasant man too.



I awoke in the dead of night to find Andy Luke at the bottom of my bed again. “I’m thinking of arranging a Comics Barcamp”, he whispered. “What’s a Barcamp?” I asked.


He answered: “ describes it as ‘an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos and interaction from participants who are the main actors of the event.’

He continued: “A barcamp isn’t a bunch of creatives getting pissed in a pub, though there’s room for that. It’s a conference, very structured. The rules are that you must learn something or go somewhere where you can. More importantly everyone must contribute something. This could be a talk, a ride to the destination, crash space, breakfast, t-shirts, headed notepaper or time. There’s a lot to a barcamp, also different ways of doing it. The central crux is knowledge transfer and pooling.”

“So basically, everyone shows up at a destination, says what they would like to do and a roster/schedule is drawn up?” I said.

Andy nodded and elaborated: “I’d like to do a piece on comics writer pitching, and if someone asks, I’ll talk about my external funding experiences. Schedule expectations are fluid. People can register their interest in presenting a particular subject online before the event. It is not until the morning of the camp, where this is fixed on an open grid structure – a wall-plan in the reception lobby of the day’s events which will run across two conference rooms. Arrive at a reasonable hour and you get to pick your slot. So in short, it’s disorganised until it isn’t. A central organising committee should shape organically. Barcamp is in the hands of you.”

I asked Andy where such an event could take place.

He answered: “Blick Studios on the Malone Road is a lovely arts conference centre at an affordable price. Neither date nor venue are fixed at this time. The biggest issue among my concerns is sponsorship. Ideally, no money should change hands. Donations are investment. So perhaps Forbidden Planet might donate the £100 for one of the rooms, and 50 or 100 of their bags to hold conference packs. A local graphics company might donate £50 for the second room and some headed notepaper. An arts shop might donate note paper and pens etc. Traditionally, barcamps work on a tiered sponsorship system with the biggest sponsors being rewarded a higher marketing profile through the event as in bigger logos on name-badges. ”

He went on: “The venue ideally has wi-fi. It’s possible that the organising committee could operate through a back-channel web-chat. IT Barcamps have a lot of activity with central twitter hashtags, presenters providing their informal sessions in the form of an online powerpoint, document etc. The event could be live-streamed to remote goers.”

I asked Andy if this kind of event has this been done before in relation to comics.

“I don’t know if anyone’s ever done a comics barcamp before,” he answered. “ The socially structured Caption is the closest I can pinpoint. If there’s a comics stall, it’ll be communal but I think this might be where rucksack sales come in.”

Andy then concluded by saying: “I would like to invite some local professionals outside of comics work to re-grow the populism. Obviously, comics folk are lovely people, jubilantly casting off chains of solitude – but sometimes as we do so we get our own heads up arses. I blame the drink. Guinness!”

Then Andy vanished, as if he was never there, and I was left thinking the idea was ambitious but equally doable, Andy’s idea sounded like a very good one. Watch this space for further developments.

If you are still uncertain as to what a Barcamp is exactly watch these lovely people:

And here’s a useful links by Andy: